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Special air quality alert remains for Vancouver as smoky skies dim sun

The smell outside is a hint as to what's causing the air issues.
A thick layer of smoke sits over downtown Vancouver as seen looking north from Queen Elizabeth Park towards the North Shore Mountains.

Vancouver is a 10+ right now.

This is the city's Air Quality Health Index as of Sunday morning, a scale from 1 to 10 of how clean the air is: 10 is the worst.

The provincial air rating system warns that anything above 7 has a high health risk, and above 10 there's a very high risk.

Causing the high rating is smoke drifting over the city from several fires, some close and some far.

"Elevated levels of fine particulate matter are due to smoke from both wildfires burning in B.C. and the United States and a fire burning in Vancouver at a wood recycling facility," states Environment Canada.

The federal agency has issued and reissued a special air quality statement due to the smoke. Air quality statements have also been issued across the Lower Mainland, southern Vancouver Island, West Kootenays, and Peace River areas of B.C.

"Wildfires burning southeast of Chilliwack and Hope, including two fires near Manning Park (Heather Lake) and Hope (Flood Falls Trail), are producing smoke that is impacting the region. Today and tomorrow, additional smoke is expected to arrive from the south, further degrading air quality," they warn.

The smoke is being held in place by an inversion, as well, which means it's not clearing as quickly as in normal weather conditions.

"Smoke concentrations may vary widely across the region as winds and temperatures change, and as wildfire behaviour changes," notes Environment Canada.

In a release issued Sept. 10, Metro Vancouver noted the air quality had moved to "unhealthy."

On the province's air quality map, Metro Vancouver northwest, which includes the City of Vancouver and North Vancouver, had the worst rating in the area, along with the Central Fraser Valley, which includes Abbotsford. While much of the south coast is also experiencing poor air quality, only Duncan is 10+ as well.

"If you or those in your care are exposed to wildfire smoke, consider taking extra precautions to reduce your exposure. Wildfire smoke is a constantly-changing mixture of particles and gases which includes many chemicals that can harm your health," warns Environment Canada.